A Survey of Womens’ Protest Signs from the Past Century by Cara Ober

Who is joining me on January 21 in Washington?? Assuming our President-Elect is actually inaugurated, I plan to be in DC, permit or no permit, to protest all the horrible things this man has said, and to communicate that this is NOT OKAY.

Like you, I’m having a hard time focusing on anything but the avalanche of ‘deplorable’ headlines, which somehow manage to top yesterday’s deplorable headlines, about our new President-Elect. Whether intentional or not, his daily gas-lighting makes it difficult to see anything positive, clear, or long-term.

Sometimes it feels like I am drowning in outrage, and terrified for what is to come, but it’s important to remember — we are in this together. A majority of Americans did not vote for him. We still have the First Amendment guaranteeing our right to free speech and we – especially the artists, makers, designers, mothers, daughters, and sisters – are accomplished communicators. As creatives, it is our civic duty to employ our communication skills for good.

In moments like this, I look to the past for inspiration and leadership, to remind myself that we may be on the losing side of this horrible election, but we are on the right side of history. One area I have found particularly inspiring is looking at images of protest, especially women’s protest in this country (and others) over the past 100 years. We have a rich history of standing up against patriarchy, tyranny, and injustice. We cannot afford to stay silent and NOW is the time to create YOUR protest sign (or viral video or performance…) and to have it ready.

Looking at images of past protest reveals strategies of humor, irony, obscenity, rage, insults, and factual information. For those who are artists, designers, and makers, I would encourage you to take this a step further and create new designs based on your own ideas or what you see here — and to make those designs widely available.

Can good design change the world? Maybe.

Can a well designed image change hearts and minds?? Why not?

We know that what’s happening in our country is wrong. We have to believe that love will defeat hate eventually. We have to believe that progress is a slowly rising incline that has hiccuped in this god-awful 2016, but it will be righted (lefted?). We can all come together in a multitude of ways to help make this happen.

Let’s use our powers to create something so beautiful, or so ridiculous, or so offensive that it breaks through our post-fact world and reaches those who need to hear the message.

After he is inaugurated on January 20, or if Pence is, or anyone else is who attempts to take away our rights to be good human beings to ourselves, our bodies, and to others–we will make our voices heard. This is only the beginning.

MICA Globe Printing Press – I’m looking at you!

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Pro-choice activists shout slogans before the annual March for Life passes by the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 533840441

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Protesters hold signs during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Women, with their bodies painted with blood, hold signs reading: "2,074 women were sterilized without their consent by the government of Fujimori" during a protest near the Attorney General's Office in Lima, November 18, 2015. Amnesty International pressed Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on July 2015 to track down scores of poor Andean women who might have been forcibly sterilized by government doctors in the late 1990s. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo - RTS7URH

Women, with their bodies painted with blood, hold signs reading: “2,074 women were sterilized without their consent by the government of Fujimori” during a protest near the Attorney General’s Office in Lima, November 18, 2015. Amnesty International pressed Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on July 2015 to track down scores of poor Andean women who might have been forcibly sterilized by government doctors in the late 1990s. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo – RTS7URH

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